DEAR MISS MANNERS: My in-laws spent a week at our home, and when they were leaving, they gave us a thank-you card with a very thoughtful message, but which also included a $200 gift card.
My reaction at first was that it was minimizing our hospitality by being excessive. But then, after declining the gift card twice, I realized that it was a gift from their heart, and I should accept it as they had also accepted my hospitality.
Giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin -- if given from the heart. Aren’t they?
GENTLE READER: Yes, if you are sure that is so. As you believe in your in-laws’ good will, and have read their kind message, Miss Manners will take your word for their warm intentions.
But she knows why you hesitated to accept. Had they given you an actual present of any kind, you would have shown immediate gratitude. Their awkward gesture of handing you the equivalent of money as they left, as if paying a hotel bill, could seem cold and even insulting.
But motivation counts, and you know they meant well, so you were right first to protest, but then to accept in the spirit in which it was intended.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My good silver set does not include a place setting for dessert. A dessert fork and spoon were never made for it.
I wonder, for a meal including a salad course and dessert, how is this problem to be solved? The salad fork cannot be placed above the plate with a place spoon, as it is needed for the salad course. The dinner fork, of course, has its function.
I realize some may consider this an arcane and asinine dilemma, but it has been bothering me for a good while now.
GENTLE READER: Now, now, that is perfectly understandable -- at least to Miss Manners.
Luckily for you, dessert services are not required to match the rest of the flatware used for a dinner. Also in your favor, although sad: Silver is in declining use, so you should be able to pick up a vintage dessert service cheaply online.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife is part of a large group of friends, and lately, when this group throws a party, the person organizing the party includes a request that attendees wear a specific color.
If you are a participant in a wedding, I understand the desire that folks be attired in matching colors, but now these ladies in the group are telling guests they have to wear clothes of a specific color. Is this some new requirement that I have not heard of, or are these requests getting out of line?
GENTLE READER: While this sounds as silly to Miss Manners as it does to you, she notes that neither of us is a member of this group. If your wife and her friends want to maintain wardrobes in multiple colors to attend occasional little costume parties, it is not our business to interfere. And if it is your wife who objects, she should open a discussion with the group.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)